CALGARY -- Any High River, Alta., residents remaining in the flood-ravaged town south of Calgary were being urged by the RCMP Sunday to leave immediately.
Mounties were going door-to-door to every single home ensuring people had evacuated and that no one was stranded.
On Sunday, they were searching the second of nine sectors and hoping to start the third.
But hazards including power outages, gas leaks and lack of water treatment have cops concerned for the safety of any remaining residents as well as first responders.
“We do know there’s people that didn’t leave and they need to,” Cpl. Laurel Kading said. “There is no power right now ... there is no water treatment facilities so anytime that a toilet is flushed there is waste that is coming out and going into neighbours’ homes, into where the rescuers are.
“We’re concerned about the safety of people and we are highly recommending that everyone leave the town of High River.”
Kading said despite some residents’ initial hopes the evacuation order would be short-lived, she said it will be in place for some time.
“I know for sure we’re talking days,” she said.
Three deaths have been confirmed as a result of massive flooding over the last several days: a 33-year old woman and a 52-year old man from High River, as well as a 35-year old woman from Black Diamond, Alta.
However, while Mounties aren’t currently aware of any other missing persons, it’s unclear if everyone is safe and sound.
“We have asked people to register at the different evacuation sites, but we don’t have an accounting of 13,000 people,” Kading said.
“It’s quite possible people are at friends’ and families’ homes and not realizing the need for us to know where they are. At this point we have a big question mark as to whether there’s anyone actually missing.”
Kading said the work of police and military in High River and other parts of southern Alberta — search and rescue efforts and helping maintain security — has been tough, with some of the officers hailing from High River themselves.
“We’ve actually worked now to replace those officers and brought in enough resources that we can stand them down and let them start dealing with what’s occurred to them,” she said. “But it’s devastating.
There’s a lot of damage.”
About 200 RCMP members from outside of southern Alberta — including B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northern Alberta — have come in to help with the efforts.